Vail Resorts employees help restore Pike forest
WESTCREEK – More than 100 Vail Resorts employees worked Thursday to restore an area in the Pike National Forest that was damaged by the 2002 Hayman fire.The volunteer day was the second at the site along Trail Creek and is part of an effort to restore more than 115,000 acres damaged by the state’s largest wildfire. “It’s amazing once you gather in and have a focus for that many people you can get a lot of work done in a short amount of time with that many bodies,” said Bobby Murphy, director of the Vail Ski & Snowboard School. The volunteers worked to revegetate a road that had been eroding over time since the fire. Erosion is a major concern in the area, as it drains sediment and soil into important water supplies. “When you’re actually in the environment and you see the intense heat of the fire not only burned the trees and the vegetation growing above ground, it also burned and took all the nutrients out of the soil, and this was 10 years ago, obviously,” Murphy said. “The erosion of the area is a huge concern, and what’s happened is a lot of the drainage areas and the roads that are out there … can’t hold the sediment and the soil that’s there.” Murphy said erosion and also ATV and other motor vehicles had created ditches that ran the whole length of the road. The Forest Service has closed the road, and the volunteers filled in the ditches with dead trees and broken limbs and then raked in soil. They then planted seeds of native-growing trees and put an erosion-control matting over it. “Basically, we were trying to turn this old road into growth and vegetation that would hold the soil and sediment so it wouldn’t erode away,” Murphy said. The Hayman fire burned 137,760 acres of the Pike National Forest, and the destruction impacted more than 75 percent of the state’s water supply. Begun in 2009, the Hayman Restoration Partnership focuses on restoring four watersheds that drain into the Upper South Platte River, Denver’s main water supply. Vail Resorts has committed $750,000 and 1,500 volunteer hours to the project. Thursday’s team included about 20 employees from Vail and Beaver Creek resorts, said Nicky DeFord, senior manager for charitable contributions.”Next summer marks the 10th anniversary of the fire and they also have marked that to be the culmination of all the stuff that’s been happening down there,” DeFord said.Murphy said the thing that stood out to him about the day most was meeting people from different branches and locations of the company.”You’re side by side with a lot of folks you’ve never met before,” he said. “That environment was fun, finding out where people work, what their responsibility with the resort is. It was a byproduct of what we were actually there to do but getting to know people from the company was fun.”Jill Beathard is an intern at the Vail Daily. Email comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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